Puremagnetik is a company that aims to harness the power of Ableton Live’s elaborate system of audio and instrument routing. With their current lineup of products (mostly sample libraries, but they just entered the MaxforLive field too), the company serves up Live Packs that range from solid basics all the way through to elaborate sonic experiments. In this first installment of two articles, I will cover recent subscriber download HackShop, the company’s Drum and Percussion Bundle, and legacy MicroPak, Bender.
HackShop HackShop is a selection of distorted, modulated, and beautifully grimy sampled instruments. The package includes 2 basses, 2 pads, and 4 percussion presets for Drum Rack. Each of the included Instrument Rack presets make good use of Live’s internal plug-ins and routing options. Puremagnetik has also conveniently set up macros for controlling the “go to” parameters for each preset. Sonically, these patches are covered in distortion, modulation, and filtering. The result is a fuzzed-out, mechanized kind of sound suitable for glitch, industrial, and aggro tech music styles. The samples involved are supplied by a circuit bender called The Violent Scar. Living up to his name, this collection serves up a selection of sinisterly modded Barbie karaoke machines, a defiled toy guitar, a home built optical theremin, and a modified Yamaha DD 50 drum machine. The collection of instruments leans toward the dark and foreboding for certain. HackShop also includes over 100 percussive loops that are equally as mangled as the included instruments. The collection of Live Clips offers everything from mutated, evolving abstract percussion to alien sound excursions. Perhaps the most impressive part of this Pack are the percussion patches for Drum Rack. Each of the kits is chock full of bleeps, squeals, and mechanical bangs. Best of all, most of the kits have enough samples to cover most of your keyboard, which gives the user plenty of options for creating their own twisted rhythms. If distorted, circuit bent, machine sounds inspire you and you are an Ableton Live 8 user, then you can’t go wrong with HackShop.
Drum and Percussion Bundle Puremagnetik’s Drum and Percussion Bundle is a collection of Drum Rack instruments for Live. The Micropaks include Trap Kit, Purple Kit, Digital Beatboxes, Analog Drums, and B System: Percussives. The sounds included cover the gamut of sampled drums with everything from multi-sampled acoustic kits, to classic digital drum machine patches, and modular synthesis mayhem straight from a powerful (and pricey) Buchla system.
In checking out the drum sounds, I kept finding myself inspired. A Digital Beatboxes kit called “Tighty” inspired the first demo, while a patch from Analog Drums called “Electrostatic Kit Basic” ignited the second demo (see below). Moving through the patches, I found the selection of electronic drum sounds impressive. The included electronic sounds are void of the typical 808, 909, SR78, and “pop kit” type drum sounds and instead provide effect laden, yet useful analog and digital drum patches.
Also, on the electronic side of this bundle, is B System: Percussives. This collection is sampled from a Buchla modular and is truly a remarkable collection of synth percussion sounds. The routing options of a Buchla are vast, and Puremagnetik has made great use of the Buchla’s unique sound in these patches for Drum Rack.
The sampled acoustic kits included in the Drum and Percussion Bundle are Trap Kit (a vintage, style Ludwig Set) and Purple Kit (a highly customized modern set). Diving right into Trap Kit I found the samples to be cleanly recorded. At the heart of Trap Kit is the kick, and it has a nice distinct, vintage “thud” to it. The snare is warm and lacking in modern “snap,” which makes it a sure fit for “vintage” styles of music. The toms have the unmistakable retro vibe one would expect from a 60s Ludwig kit. On the downside the crash sounds a bit brittle; however, the included crash ride does offer a bit more in the way of complex, life-like overtones. The hi hats have a good character, with a nice, complex overall sound. Moving on to Purple Kit, I found it to be a high quality kit, with numerous presets offering the choice of stick, rod, or brush hits. These multi-stick patches work in as a Drum Rack with samples loaded in Ableton’s powerful Sampler instrument. While these patches sound great, and offer the flexibility to change stick sounds on the fly, I found them to be pretty resource heavy – spiking up to 45% CPU usage on my 2Ghz Core 2 Duo – of course more modern processors should fair better. Thankfully, Puremagnetik has also included a separate folder of Drum Racks linked to Simpler, which are much more resource friendly. The sound of Purple Kit is aimed at hip hop and R & B genres as it contains no toms whatsoever. There are individual dampened and open kicks, a 14” and 10” snare, Zildjian hats and ride, and a Paiste crash. Overall the sounds are punchy, with a slight hint of woody depth to the primary snare. The dampened kick has the quintessential R & B bump, while the open kick suits hip hop ideally. Aside from a slightly artifact resonant “zing,” the auxiliary 10” snare adds versatility to the kit. In addition to hip hop/R & B I could hear these sample making their way into other genres; however, it is worth noting that Purple Kit’s lack of toms and cymbal options would not work for modern rock/metal productions at all. Overall, Purple Kit is a well recorded, well organized, and genuinely good sounding kit aimed at urban music styles.
Bender Another Puremagnetik offering that seems to have origins on the Island of Misfit Toys is Bender. Bender is an Ableton Live Pack made out modified toys. While most of the sounds are seriously gritty percussion, there are a couple of keyboard instruments. My favorite of these is a patch called “Alphabet,” that is apparently ripped from a toy known as the Coleco Talking Teacher. This particular patch can be heard in Sound Demo 1. The included percussion in bender is just what you would imagine: toy sounds which have been bit crushed, over driven, and filtered in sonically perverse ways. Although the applicability of the included sounds is somewhat limited, Bender is certainly a good compliment to your Ableton sound palette.
Conclusion The sounds I sampled in writing this article are fresh, original, and affordable. Given the myriad of sound manipulation possibilities in Ableton Live, it is important to remember that these Live Packs are sonic fuel for Live’s elaborate routing system – the real tweaking begins when you get them installed. The sounds are cleanly recorded, intelligently organized, and feature convenient macros for useful parameters. Puremagnetik’s extensive catalog has something for everyone, including those who use Kontakt or Apple Logic, for which the company offers alternate versions of most of their products. In Part Two, I will take a look at current subscriber downloads, Artifact and Phazeform Volume 2, so look for a follow up later in the month.
Price Puremagnetik provides their products as both a-la-carte downloads and as a subscription service. Price points for individual downloads are $12 (USD). Puremagnetik offers monthly subscriptions which allow users to download current MicroPaks for $5.75 (USD) per month. There is also a Yearly subscription valued at $60 (USD), as well as the best value, $198 (USD) for the All Access Pass. The Puremagnetik site is updated monthly with a new MicroPak, and boasts an impressive lineup of back catalog MicroPaks and Bundles.
…from solid basics all the way through to elaborate sonic experiments…